Former Secretary of State for Education Estelle Morris awarded the role of Pro-Chancellor of the University of Sunderland

Former Secretary of State for Education and House of Lords peer, Estelle Morris, has been appointed to the position of Pro-Chancellor of the city’s university.

Thursday, 9th December 2021, 5:00 pm

Mrs Morris, who holds the title Baroness of Yardley, has had connections with the University of Sunderland going back two decades.

She said: “My relationship with the University, and the city, started around 2001 when I was invited to visit by the University’s then Chancellor, Lord David Puttnam.

“During that time, I would visit the city every other week, forming links, making friends, and supporting the University in its efforts. The bonds I made during that time remain to this day, so it is a real pleasure to be coming back to receive this honour again from the University.”

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It’s the second time the former Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley has held the position after taking up the role between 2005 and 2009. Before entering politics, Mrs Morris spent 18 years working in an inner-city, multi-cultural school in Coventry.

It was during these years that she would learn and experience the diverse side of the education system that would go on to form many of her beliefs and political policies. Estelle became a minister in the Department for Education and Employment in 1997 and was promoted to Secretary of State for Education and Skills in 2001 - the first former comprehensive school teacher to hold the position.

University of Sunderland Chancellor Emeli Sandé and new Pro-Chancellor Baroness Estelle Morris at the 2021 Winter Graduation Ceremonies. Picture: DAVID WOOD

She is credited with playing a pivotal role in reforming the education system with many of those changes still being in place today. In 2005, the MP was made a life peer and welcomed into the House of Lords.

Mrs Morris was officially announced as Pro-Chancellor by superstar singer and Chancellor, Emeli Sandé, at the start of the University’s graduation ceremony. The event, which took place at the Stadium of Light, was the first in-person graduation ceremony to be held in two years after being curtailed by the Covid pandemic.

Speaking after the ceremony, Mrs Morris said: “Coming back to Sunderland is always a pleasure. I truly appreciate how the University is at the beating heart of city life, how it is linked to the Local Authority, the football club, and the people themselves.”

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